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June 2011 - Volunteer Spotlight - Emily and Galen Bratton

June 2011 - Volunteer Spotlight - Emily and Galen Bratton

 “We feel tremendous gratitude that we can volunteer our time and energy to this festival and receive the gift of music in return.” That is how Emily and Galen Bratton of Carrboro, North Carolina, sum up their MerleFest volunteer experience. They continue, “It is a joy to work at this festival along with other hard-working volunteers and talented musicians. We look forward to bringing our future children here every year and demonstrating to them the benefits of service to our community and raising them in the rich tradition and fun of MerleFest.”

Galen learned of MerleFest while hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2005. A friend informed them of the volunteer program in which they have participated for three years now. After testing the MerleFest volunteer waters at several venues, Galen and Emily have settled on a home—Little Pickers. They work there with their friend, Patricia Carson, with whom they also enjoy camping during the festival.

Emily and Galen BrattonTheir special MerleFest moments revolve around friendship and music. Stories like being awoken in their tent by Patricia’s dog, Zoe, whom Galen recognized even though he didn’t know Patricia was even at the festival, abound with this trio of friends. Or both Patricia and the Brattons bringing carrot soup to sustain them during the festival—“We were drowning in it!” And, hearing the Waybacks rip through a Led Zeppelin album. They also have fond memories of other MerleFest musicians. “We look forward to the artists who come annually—the Waybacks, Donna the Buffalo, Sam Bush and Jerry Douglas to name a few. However, learning of the new ‘surprises’ each year is also a treat. The young, energetic talents of Scythian and the Avett Brothers are always a must-see for us in addition to appreciating the more traditional sounds at MerleFest.”

Obviously, music is an important part of Galen and Emily’s lives, but they have many other interests. Galen loves to backpack, and he spends many evenings reading the classics. He has completed the Appalachian Trail and sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. Emily is a painter and loves to cook without recipes. “After moving from the chilly North, we’ve taken a liking to gardening and Ultimate Frisbee—two of the most popular activities in Carrboro. We both have a passion for good music and first met at a music festival in Manchester, Tennessee.”

Emily is pursuing a Ph.D. in Epidemiology at the Gillings School for Global Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill, and Galen is a physical therapist at Alamance Regional Medical Center in Burlington, North Carolina.

Thank you, Emily and Galen, for making MerleFest a part of your lives and for the great work you do with the Little Pickers who come to the festival.